How the Keyboard Got Its Shape

Ever wondered why a keyboard’s keys are arranged the way they are?  The modern keyboard arrangement can be traced to the late 1800s when Remington & Sons manufactured the first commercial typewriter, called the Remington Number 1. It was similar to our modern keyboard, with the letters Q, W, E, R, T, Y starting the top row, giving it the nickname of “qwerty.” While the first qwerty keyboard and typewriter weren’t perfect, its future development would help shape the keyboard as we know it today.

Another keyboard that challenged the qwerty layout was the Dvorak keyboard. This keyboard design placed the most-used keys in the middle row, making the distance a user’s fingers traveled shorter.  It is also designed to make the hands alternate on consecutive letters.  But, while the keyboard was designed to increase efficiency, it didn’t catch on like the more popular qwerty keyboard.

A study performed in the 1950s showed that while the layout of the Dvorak keyboard was deemed as more efficient, typists maintained the same rate of typing with both systems.  This helps explain why the qwerty keyboard has remained the standard.

While the keyboard on your computer is most likely a qwerty keyboard, you can try out the Dvorak keyboard layout by visiting this website.